Monday, June 28, 2010

how to get pregnant

No, you idiot, not me. But it occurs to me that I should share this, for whatever reason.

I may have mentioned before that my mother is mentally ill. When we were small children and dependent on her, it made her rather a hazard to our well-being. Now that we are independent adults, it makes her extremely entertaining. She's actually aware of this, but she's probably not sure where the line is located between her "serious" ideas and her eccentricities. (I would submit that almost everything is on the same side of that line.)

Anyway, she read some book a few years back that suggested that Americans' global health is being done in by the unhealthy foods they eat that all lead them to the same adverse result: an over-acidic body condition. The key is to eat a diet which causes one's person to become alkaline (or "basic"). I have a large number of scientific criticisms of this theory (though it may have some useful tidbits, for all I know). I pointed out to her that if one were to succeed (for example) in rendering the contents of one's stomach alkaline, in a little while, the food one had eaten would rot in the stomach, causing sepsis, and potentially death. (If left untreated.) You will be shocked to hear she was unmoved by this argument.

Also odd is that several of the elements of the "alkaline diet" are actually very acidic - large quantities of organic raw garlic, for example. (The connection between organic and alkaline, other than that they're both trendy and slightly paranoid, is also something I doubt my college chemistry profs would support. Nevertheless, the diet apparently requires organic vegetables. BUT ALWAYS RAW.)

The main ingredients strike me as a pretty good recipe for kid-friendly interior paint: foul-tasting organic cottage cheese, flax seeds, linseed oil, raw garlic, etc. The reason I know even this much is not, of course, because I read the book (though somewhere, I believe I have a copy that she sent me. More on this later). It's because I saw her prepare this nonsense for a friend (she did not adopt the alkaline diet wholesale herself).

This was a long-time family friend who's a little crazy and kind of a pain in the neck. He was in his seventies at the time, and this was nearly ten years ago. He'd lived a fairly difficult life, by American standards, and had cancer in a pretty advanced stage; but I wouldn't have expected him to live many more years even without the cancer. He'd been given only a few months to live. His other friends in the small town where I grew up were stopping by to spend evenings playing cards and enjoying takeout Italian (he's Italian) and generally have a good time in the last few months of his life. My mother brought the alkaline diet.

I could see, visiting his somewhat chaotic home on a visit home during college, that he had just finished some quantity of unhealthy (but delicious-looking) Italian cooking - not a lot, because he didn't have much of an appetite. He looked sick, but not dying. She went to some trouble to prepare him this inedible mess, and scolded him unmercifully about straying from the diet. When she was out of earshot, I asked him, "Do you believe this will do you any good?" He had already said it tasted terrible. He told me that he didn't have the least expectation of improvement from the diet. "Well, then, why are you eating it?" I asked. He even tried to give her money to help with the cost of the organic produce. "It makes your mother happy," he said. I thought both of them were crazy.

Maybe a year later, talking to her, I realized that she hadn't brought him up in a while. I didn't expect to be able to make the funeral, but I would've liked to know when he died. So I asked what had happened. "Oh, he went to Vegas for a few months with his son," she told me. (His son was about 18 or 20 at the time.) Apparently he was still there at the time I asked. I asked her whether he was still eating the alkaline diet in Vegas, and she admitted he probably wasn't. "But he was supposed to be dead," I persisted. "There's no way he should still be alive - let alone walking around - now. They can predict death from cancer within a few months now." She agreed. What could explain this? Well, what do you think she said? The alkaline diet, of course!

It has been seven or eight years, and as far as I know he is still alive.

Today my sister emailed my brother and me to let us know that she got a Fulbright grant, and to ask whether she was the only one who still checked our hometown obits to see whether the old guy had died. (She is.) I pointed out that his continued existence lends at least some evidence to the theory that my mother has cured cancer. My sister responded, "It's alkalinity in the diet, hasn't she told you? You get on that they'll be babies flying out of you."

My sister knows my mother. It's not so much that she would say that - she already has. In fact, she used rather close to those words. Forget the surgeries and the hormone imbalances and the hydrosalpinx; I've only to increase the pH of my innards, and I will give Michelle Duggar a run for her money. I told my mother how I dislike getting unsolicited medical advice about infertility (which had no effect on her whatsoever), but I will say this for her: first of all, she's the only person who's ever offered me such advice who is actually mentally ill, and second, it's the least crazy and/or dangerous advice I've probably gotten (and that counts the advice of my doctor, now that I think about it).

This is where we get back to the book. As I said, I don't remember where it is, but not long after that conversation, she sent me my own copy - after I specifically requested that she not do so. She can't even remember where she put her glasses from one moment to the next, or whether she's eaten recently, but she remembered to do that. Found my address and got to the post office and everything.

And I know there are infertiles out there who will literally try anything - or at least, anything that's relatively cheap and relatively harmless, and this probably is. Plus I think the diet is pretty low-cal, and summer-friendly, so what the heck. Google "alkaline diet" and buy the book with the crazy guy on the cover (if I recall correctly).

There's a cancer survivor in Nevada right now who might be able to give you some practice tips, too.


  1. HAHA! I dated a guy once who's mother sounds VERY similar. I had a cold once and she pointed to a jar on the edge of the sink which was full of what I thought was compost and told me to take a swig and I'd feel better in the morning. I declined.

    I laughed out loud at the babies flyin' out. If only!

  2. I think the idea is that most people are too acidic and the idea is to balance your pH - I think somewhere in the 6.5-7.5 range is right? Anyway, I think your mom might have missed the point on that one :). Eating better is good, but I've never been a fan of these fad diets - if it's not healthy for you to eat that way for the rest of your life, then maybe you shouldn't be doing it period...
    Although, if it were proved that "babies would come flying out"...then sign me up and I'll start the alkaline diet tomorrow!
    Sigh. So sad.

  3. My naturopath put me on baking soda pills because my ph is off. I haven't been taking them but maybe I should get on it!!!!

  4. Wow. I've heard of baking soda douches (and was tempted to try it) but not the alkaline diet.
    Though I'm not sure my acupuncturist would like the only raw veggies requirement. Apparently heated/cooked foods are better for fertility, according to TCM.
    I, for one, would just adore seeing babies flying out of you. So please, for my entertainment, get on that diet.

  5. LOL! I needed that today. Thanks.

  6. So funny! Thanks for sharing it!

  7. lol! he might be my neighbor! ;)
    I have heard and believe that your diet to a point effects our fertility. It effects everything in our bodies, but do I think that changing my diet will cure me completly? no way. I think it can help, but thats it.